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Kell Bliss, Women's Leadership Program

Preparing for the next level of leadership

Lieutenant Commander Kell Bliss shares why she chose Yale’s Women’s Leadership Program to equip her for success in a new leadership role.

Lieutenant Commander Kell Bliss is an active-duty officer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Commissioned Officer Corps, 13 years and counting. When she began the process of becoming the Executive Officer of NOAA’s newest research vessel, she sought a leadership program that would equip her for success in her new role.

Then she learned about Yale’s Women’s Leadership Program (WLP) and knew she had found the right fit. After participating in the April 2023 cohort, she feels more prepared to transition to the next level of leadership.

Why did you choose to attend the Women’s Leadership Program?
NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations offered two spots through a competitive training opportunity. Given that I am in the process of becoming the Executive Officer (XO) of NOAA's newest research vessel and as such will be in a leadership role, I had been looking for a leadership program. [WLP] looked like what I was searching for, so I applied within NOAA and was selected. I especially liked the women-only aspect of the program, as I've been part of far too many mixed training sessions in the past and I was concerned that there would be a lot of getting talked over. 

What learnings from WLP resonated with you the most?
I think the idea of learning your strengths through other people's eyes, and working with that to style your leadership approach is a really interesting concept. Also delving into the idea that innovation and efficiency really can't be done in tandem; they are separate parts in the process. Another part of the program that was less defined but got teased out and developed more in the [group] coaching session was setting culture in an organization, and being able to influence that culture as a leader without being the top leader. As the new ship is coming together and we’re hiring new crew, we have the opportunity to influence the culture on the ship. I'm excited for that prospect now, rather than nervous. 

How do you think your experience in WLP will impact your professional development?
It helped me figure out the roadmap for what and where to go next, and what skills I want/need to develop more. I feel more prepared for a leadership role.

How can a participant get the most out of their experience in WLP?
Probably cliche, but go in with an open mind. There's always something to learn—even if it's something you think is a strength already. And don't be afraid about speaking up and asking questions/advice etc., or in sharing your hard-earned wisdom with the cohort.

Learn more about the Women's Leadership Program